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Consumer-First Energy Act of 2008 - Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. ISAKSON. Madam President, I have listened intently for the last 2 weeks to the climate change debate and the energy debate, to Republican ideas and Democratic ideas, to Republican speeches and Democratic speeches--all about what is wrong. While we have talked, the crisis has grown astronomically.

In Georgia today, school systems looking to transport students this fall are wondering how they are going to be able to afford to run their schoolbus fleet because of the cost of diesel.

Back in Georgia, today in Marietta, our sheriff and our police chief are wondering how they are going to be able to patrol the streets with the budget they have for gas with that tremendous cost. They are doubling up officers. They are leaving cars idle in the motor pool.

Today workers are going to the pump, and they are filling up at $4 a gallon--a price that is unsustainable for them based on their wages and based on the cost of energy.

While we may make a lot of speeches, it is time for Republicans and Democrats alike in the Congress of the United States to put aside their partisan bias when it comes to energy.

I was a young man in the 1960s. A great U.S. President, John Kennedy, stood before the American people and the Congress, when America was confronting a great difficulty. We were falling behind in math, science, and technology. The Russians had already launched a satellite. They were on the way to developing a space program, and America was being left in the dust. President Kennedy stood before the Congress, and he declared the United States would launch a man to the Moon, land him, and bring him home safely before the end of the decade.

We did not know how to do that. But the President was bold in declaring it. The Congress put its partisan differences aside and funded NASA, funded reach; and 7 1/2 years later, on July 31, 1969, the United States of America landed two men on the Moon and brought them back safely to Earth.

We are a great country, and we are at our best in a crisis. We have one today. Answers and solutions lie on both sides of the political spectrum. Enough, quite frankly, is enough. Republicans have to begin to embrace those things we said are not enough of a solution, such as renewables and conservation. They can help. They do not solve the problem, but they contribute to solving it. Democrats have to recognize we are sitting on a ham sandwich, starving to death, when we continue to keep our nuclear energy locked up and we do not expand and develop our nuclear program to generate safe, reliable, nonpolluting, carbon-free nuclear energy.

On the issue of exploration, it is possible to explore responsibly, develop the resources of our country, and contribute to our supply locally ourselves. It is important we have tax incentives for all forms of alternative energy--renewable energy such as wind and solar, future energy such as cellulosic-based ethanol, equalizing our incentives, making sure every megawatt hour is incentivized equally so we are putting all our solutions on the table.

This is not just a political problem; this is not just a pocketbook problem; this is an American problem. Have you ever thought about it for a second? Regardless of your opinion on global warming and climate change, it is in our best interest as a country to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and reduce the production of carbon in the atmosphere. It is in our interest environmentally. It is in our interest geopolitically.

Right now, the United States of America is buying oil from three of our biggest competitors/sometimes adversaries--Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Ahmadinejad in Iran, and Vladimir Putin in Russia--paying prices of up to $139.26 a barrel for oil, the profit from which they turn around and buy our Treasury notes. They are buying equity in the United States of America with the very funds we are paying for their oil.

Yet we sit here and do not develop the resources we should be developing that we know of and we have here today:

the shale oil in Colorado and Montana and North Dakota, a reserve that is estimated to be equal to the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. There are issues in Alaska with ANWR, but we can work them out. We can environmentally and safely explore. We did it 30 years ago with the pipeline in Alaska. We can do it again now. Off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and my State and States on the Atlantic coast, we can drill safely and securely. We can drill aesthetically pleasing, because if you drill outside of 50 miles, and in most cases 12, you are over the horizon so there is no damage to tourism. Yet you are extracting your own rich natural resource and supplanting those imports you would otherwise have to take from parts of the world you might not want to take from.

It is critical that we develop our resources. We all know that oil will run out one day and we all know we have to develop the technologies to replace it. We all know we need a bridge over the next 40 years as we develop those technologies to keep America running strong and vibrant and have our economy and our people prosperous. We are not going to do it with ever-spiraling prices of gasoline, heating, fuel oil, and petroleum. We can't do it. It is time we put our biases aside. It is time we stood and spoke as Americans. It is time we look toward every possible resource that is available to us and make a declaration just as John Kennedy did. If this President of the United States and this Congress join united to say we Americans are going to reduce our dependence on foreign and imported oil by 33 percent over the next decade and we are going to do it by unlocking those things that we refuse to explore--by developing our renewables, by incentivizing equitably all sources of energy that reduce our dependence on petroleum such as nuclear, wind, solar, synthetic fuels, and biodiesel--the world will immediately take notice and the speculators who were discussed so much two speakers ago will speculate in a hurry that America finally woke up, the Congress finally decided to do something. They will know our insatiable desire for foreign oil is at an end, that we are looking toward an end game where we are energy independent. You know what happens when that happens: The price of oil begins to come down immediately.

The way you have an immediate impact on a spiraling and rapid increase in price is to have an immediate declaratory decision that you are going to do something about it and delineate those solutions you have and you know are doable. Surely a country that faced in the 1960s a challenge without the technology at the time to even know how to do what it said it was going to do can now today in 2008 make a declaration we are going to take our resources we are going to invest in them, we are going to incentivize them, and we are going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. If we do that, we will have the beginning of the end of the rapid spiral up in prices as well as a beginning of a new solution in the Senate of the United States. That is both sides of the issue coming together, finding the common ground that in the end benefits whom we serve: the people of the United States of America.

When I left Atlanta, GA, on the 4:20 flight to come to Washington on Monday, I came here recognizing that every day it is my responsibility to speak not for myself but for the people I represent. The people I represent are hurting. It is hurting our business. It is hurting education. It is hurting public safety. It is hurting the economy. We have to put aside our partisan differences, make a declaration of war on the spiraling cost of gas, develop the resources that we as America know we have, and say to the American people: This is the most deliberative body in the world, but it also has the potential to be the most decisive body in the world if we will only make up our mind to do it.

Madam President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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